Charlottesville, Virginia, police arrested and charged a 17-year-old boy on Friday in connection with racist threats that warned of an “ethnic cleansing” and caused the city to close its schools Thursday and Friday, according to police.
The suspect is a resident of the county but not the city, according to a statement from the Charlottesville school system superintendent, and he is not enrolled in the Charlottesville school system. He is being charged as a juvenile with the felony charge of making threats to commit serious bodily harm on school property and a misdemeanor charge of harassment by computer, Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney told reporters at a press conference Friday.
The threat, which used racist language against black and Latino students, was posted on Wednesday on the online message board 4chan. The post told white students to stay home and promised an “ethnic cleansing” at Charlottesville High School on Thursday.
That post resulted in the school system closing all nine of its schools Thursday, affecting 4,300 students. The school system that night announced that “based on extensive conversations with law enforcement,” it would continue to keep the school closed the next day.
“I find it particularly troubling that a person who is not part of our Charlottesville City Schools community would make such a hurtful and divisive threat under the guise of being a CHS student,” superintendent Rosa Atkins said in the statement. “Since August 2017, we have made concerted efforts to have difficult conversations around race and to build trust and relationships. This comment attempted to undermine our community.”
In her statement, Atkins acknowledged the wounds Charlottesville carries from the Unite the Right white nationalist rally that captured national attention in August 2017 and led to the killing of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. James Alex Fields Jr., the avowed neo-Nazi who killed Heyer and injured 19 others when he drove into a crowd at the protest, was found guilty in December of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In an apparently unrelated incident Friday, police in Albemarle County, Virginia, arrested a teenager for threatening to carry out a shooting at Albemarle High School, just a few miles away from Charlottesville High School, according to NBC News. That teenager was charged with one felony count of threats of death or bodily injury.